Battery power – is that the best we can do?

What on earth is the point of a battery-powered motorcycle?

The Observer’s tame eco-zealot is banging on, today about battery-powered bikes. Again! Look, I know we have to get away from dependence on the petrochemical industry, but so far, nobody has come up with an alternative power source which is as affordable and easily refuelable as the internal combustion engine. And trust me, batteries sure as hell are not the answer. While we’re on the subject, I was around in the fifties, I know what was predicted, almost promised, so I have a question – where the hell Continue reading

How long is a piece of string?

According to an article, in the Guardian, on alternative power solutions for cars and other vehicles, this is where that expensive petrol goes:-

27% is converted into forward motion

33% is spent cooling the engine

4% is lost as friction

36% is lost as exhaust heat

That’s 100% There’s a tiny snag, though – it leaves nothing for powering ancillary equipment. Power steering, whether belt-driven or electrically-powered, takes a percentage of the fuel. Electrics are even greedier; every time you turn something on – radio, lights, wipers, screen heater, ventilation fan, the load on the alternator increases, and so does your fuel consumption (the only freebie is the heater, which takes hot water from the engine). Actually, the load on the alternator saps engine power, which means you tread a little harder on the loud pedal to compensate – result, increased fuel consumption. Dare to turn on your aircon, and your fuel consumption soars. I once had a Ford Ka (terribly under-powered), and using the aircon jacked up the fuel consumption to – are you ready for this? – 12 mpg! It would have been cheaper to run a Cadillac!

So, those Guardian figures, depressing though they are, are hopelessly wrong and incomplete, conspicuously so, too – don’t they have sub-editors these days?

By the way, if you ever wonder why I write this sort of stuff here (apart from because I can), I have had a lot of letters published in the Guardian, and they invariably edit them – badly (I do keep them brief and to the point). One day, annoyed by this, I submitted a letter that they couldn’t possibly edit, at a mere three lines and not a superfluous word. The bastards cut it by about a third! Of course, what was left was utterly meaningless, so they added an explanatory note of their own which took up more space than my original to say exactly the same thing. I asked for an explanation, and what I got back was so rambling and meaningless I binned it so, except on very rare occasions now, I don’t bother.

I accept the need for editing letters that ramble on for hundreds of words (though the Guardian has its favourites who are allowed to ramble uncut, which pisses me off even more), but cutting a letter in which the word count barely makes double figures borders on obsession.

I, of course, recognise the peerless quality of my golden prose, and would never dream of cutting it! (Er, that’s a joke, by the way; I do edit what I write here, rigorously.)